Location: On the sidewalk, New York
Year of attack: 2021
Tell us about the attack
On April 7, 2021, during her evening walk around the block with my husband, our five-year-old dog Zelda was attacked by a pit bull whose owners lost their grip on her “leash,” which was actually just a rope tied around her neck. The owners stood by while my husband punched the dog repeatedly in the head in an attempt to make the pit bull release Zelda. After some time, it did.
I ran downstairs when they got home. Zelda was in shock, as was my husband. We rushed Zelda to the vet, where we were told the puncture wounds to her chest and abdominal cavity were too severe. She was unlikely to survive surgery and we were loathe to leave her alone at the office in pain and shock. We took the vet’s advice and allowed them to euthanize her. She died in our arms.
How has your life changed as a result of the attack?
We lost a member of our family — just 5-years-old — in a matter of a few violent, shocking, painful minutes. My husband suffered minor injuries to his hands and PTSD for several months following the attack. Those injuries and the expense of veterinary help mean little, though, compared to the guilt we carry (though there was no way to prevent the attack or its deadly result) for not being able to protect our baby on her nightly walk. And we live every day in our neighborhood knowing that that killer pit bull is still out there to attack again. We are all at risk and powerless to help.
The owners refused to share their names or contact information but we took a photo of them immediately after the attack. Several neighbors recognized them. One reported having been out with her toddler and encountering the pit bull unleashed. She said the owner refused to leash the pit bull. Two others said they’d seen the pit bull being aggressive and witnessed the owners barely able to keep their grip on its lead. We filed a report with NYPD but they — as well as NYC 311, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, ASPCA, and Animal Care Centers of NYC (ACC) — explained that the laws leave them powerless to pursue action to prevent the pit bull from harming others. There is no protocol for reporting or acting on animal-on-animal bites in NY.
What would you like people to know as a result of your attack?
You, your children and pets are not safe from pit bull attacks: not on your street or in your yard. A quick Google search returns many stories about the painful and often deadly results of a legal failure to prevent pit bulls from being muzzled, removed from irresponsible owners, or removed from the streets. This is a public safety threat. Waiting for a pit bull to bite a human before any action is taken to muzzle or remove it is a danger to pets, children, and adults. We must establish a system for reporting and pursuing cases of animal-on-animal attacks. In the meantime, exit your home at your own risk. There’s not actually much you can do to avoid or interrupt an attack by a pit bull. Nor are there consequences for anyone but the victims.